Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Customize Your Genesis Site With The Genesis Extender Plugin

If you use the Genesis Theme Framework for your site, then you know that it provides a lot of customization potential. But most of this potential can only be unlocked if you are a developer who knows how to code. Meaning you can edit PHP code in a code editor and upload it back to your server via FTP.

But what about for non-coders? Well, luckily you guys have an option as well. And that option is called the Genesis Extender plugin. Genesis extender was created by Eric Hamm of CobaltApps who also produced the excellent Dynamik Website Builder child theme.

Installing Genesis Extender works like any other wordpress plugin. Once you install it, you will see two additional settings under the Genesis Menu: Extender Settings and Extender custom.

Extender Settings

Under Extender Settings, you will see some General Settings and some Import/Export settings. The most interesting aspect of the General settings are the options for your EZ static homepage. What this does is let you create a static front page for your site. So instead of having a front page consisting of a blog showing all your latest posts, you can have a static front page that displays anything you want. See this article by Keith Davies on how to use this.

Genesis Extender gives you many different layouts you can use for this static homepage. And you can fill each layout using whatever Wordpress widgets you like.

Extenders export settings gives you a chance to save your changes and use them on many different sites. So it's quite useful for site builders.

Extender Custom

Extender custom is where this plugin really makes its mark. First is the custom CSS builder. This basically allows you to make changes to your CSS and see the changes update live. If you've ever done the CSS edit, save and browser reload cycle then you can see how much of a time saver this is.

There's also a section for creating custom hooks. Instead of having to find your child theme's function.php, you can put your php code in in the text box. There's also a dropdown with a list of all the Genesis hooks which makes it simpler to find the hook you want.

Similar to custom hooks, you can also create custom widgets very easily with the plugin. There's a tab for creating custom hooks so select that and then choose the hook you want for your widget. Now when you go to your Widgets page in the dashboard, you should see a new widget area that will get displayed in the hook area that you chose.

Finally, Genesis extender introduces the concept of labels. Think of labels like tags. Every post or page you write can have a label associated with it. With labels, you can target your Hooks or Widget areas to only work with specific labels. This gives you a lot of flexibility in how you design your site.

Want to see more about Genesis Extender? Here's a video by creator Eric Hamm:

Final Thoughts

The Genesis Extender plugin is a must have if you are using the Genesis Theme framework on your site. It makes customizing your child themes very easy, and you will wonder how you ever developed without it. It's only $49.95, so give it a try.